Does childhood nutrition influence adult cardiovascular disease risk?--insights from the Young Finns Study

Ann Med. 2013 Mar;45(2):120-8. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2012.671537. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


There is a paucity of detailed information about the role of childhood food patterns or on the impact of individual nutrients on adulthood cardiovascular disease (CVD). We review here the reports that have investigated these questions in the Young Finns Study with its 3596 subjects at baseline, aged 3 to 18 years. All the participants filled in a food habit questionnaire, and half of them provided a 48-hour dietary recall interview. In adulthood, cardiovascular risk factors as well as structural and functional markers of subclinical atherosclerosis were measured, i.e. carotid artery intima media thickness (IMT), and measurements of arterial elasticity and brachial artery endothelial function. Our data demonstrate that dietary patterns can already be identified in childhood. These patterns remain relatively stable over the life-course and associate with cardiovascular risk factors and vascular markers of subclinical atherosclerosis. For example, a traditional dietary pattern characterized by low intakes of fruits and vegetables was associated with elevated increased adulthood IMT especially in men, whereas a diet with a high intake of vegetables was independently associated with increased arterial elasticity in both genders. Our findings and the current literature suggest that childhood nutrition has a significant role in the progression of CVD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires